Category: Confederation History

JFor most of the last four years my Friday posts have been taken from Jarn’s Journal, a Journal allegedly recorded roughly 125,000 years ago by a human-like alien named Jarn who was stranded in Africa. So who was Jarn? To what extent is he representative of his species?

Jarn is a R’il’nian. (The apostrophes indicate palataliztion of the preceding consonant.) The R’il’nai are very human-like in external appearance but differ in two important ways. First, they do not age. This does not mean that they are immortal, though life spans of several millennia are not uncommon. It does mean that the females are very infertile and show secondary characteristics associated with childbearing (hip width, breasts) only when approaching fertility, about once a century.

AZJarnSecond, the R’il’nai have a range of mental abilities (telepathy, teleportation, levitation, telekinesis, perception) and emotional abilities (ability to share the emotions and sensory impressions of other beings) though these vary a great deal between individuals. However, they are not very creative, especially regarding artistic creation.

Jarn has been little interested in training these abilities; he has been much more interested in engineering. Specifically, he has been a starship designer. Unfortunately his latest creation left out a few standard safety features, with the result that he crash-landed on Earth during a test flight.

Luckily the escape capsule computer survived the impact, and he is learning to use his mental abilities (which are subject to the conservation of mass-energy and momentum) from the computer.  He has also made contact with our remote ancestors (early sapiens) in Africa, and is occupying himself with exploring the new planet on which he finds himself.

Jarn’s Journal is the very early backstory of the Jarnian Confederation, which is the backdrop for most of my science fiction writing. His story is being transferred to my author site as it is written.


For the A to Z Theme Reveal scroll down.

Year 10 Day 1

My instruments (those that survived) told me that this planet has a magnetic field, and those same instruments told me that its sun is mildly active. I knew that at least in theory those were the elements needed for auroras. I hadn’t really thought much about it; one hardly expects to see auroras at the latitude where I was living, and I hadn’t been that impressed when others told me about these moving lights in the sky.

Last night I saw them.

It’s the northward equinox, and the People will be here for the Gather before long. I’ve continued to explore the northern continent, though I never know what weather I’m going to teleport into. It’s now half day and half night, and I thought I’d have a look and see whether the animals behave the same way during a normal night as they do during the long polar darkness. I took the bearskin as well as my winter clothes, and wrapped up to watch.

I knew the moon would be a late crescent by now, but I arrived in a clear evening. The stars brightened slowly as my eyes adjusted to the dimming light, and I began to worry about keeping awake.

Then the lights began.

Just a flicker of something that was not stars, at first. Then a green curtain, waving over my head and showing other colors as it brightened. I watched open-mouthed as it came and went, constantly changing color and form.

How can anyone describe this? I wondered at first that I had been so unimpressed when I heard of this phenomenon, and then decided that those who told me of it could no more put words to it than can I.

I wonder how long it will be before other intelligent eyes see this?

This is the wrong place ( Alaska) and the wrong time period (try to ignore the cars, planes, and telephone poles.) And it’s time-lapse, which means the aurora appears to be moving a little fast. But there are times when it does appear to dance across the sky. Jarn’s Journal to date is on my author site.

AZ Theme Reveal

It’s not exactly a reveal, as I said what I would be doing when I signed up. But this blog has themed days: Monday for local weather here in Interior Alaska, including gardening notes when gardens become possible; Wednesday for contexts of the quotes I have tweeted daily over the last week; Friday for Jarn’s Journal, the journal of a human-like alien stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago and the remote background for my science fiction books. I’m going to keep those, but tie them in with the letter for that day. Saturday I post a short excerpt from my writing (and I’ve finally figured out how to use all of the letters needed) for the Science Fiction Romance Brigade. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be free-form, but can generally be expected to have something to do with science, technology, or my life here in Alaska. Sunday will as usual be a snippet from my books, published and unpublished, for Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday.

For other participants’ theme reveals, click the logo above. I hope you enjoy it.

Year 9 Day 295

I finally have clothes suited for a cold climate!

Between Rainbow’s experience, Songbird’s observations of the clothing of the northern hunters, and a painfully small amount of information I managed to get out of the computer, the two women managed to combine the reindeer hide and a number of the smaller hides I’ve traded for to make me a fitted, furred pullover and a sort of trousers made of furs wrapped and tied around my legs. The major problem with what Rainbow was doing was bulk under the arms; use of the smaller, thinner skins in those areas has given me a tunic that is warm but lets me move freely.

I’ve tested them out with a short trip to the far north – only a short one, because at this time of year, fifteen days after the southern solstice, there is no daylight. Animals are active. I heard wolves howling, and in the moonlight saw a fox, its ears turning like radar dishes, ghosting over the snow. After a moment it gathered itself, dived headfirst into the snow, and came up crunching something. Feeling with my mind through the snow, I found a number of small, active rodents tunneling under the snow, just as the ones I know tunnel under the earth.

It’s far too cold to stay there for any length of time, but if I wrapped myself in the bearskin I could watch how the animals deal with the Arctic night.

Those familiar with anthropology will have noticed that I have assumed that the Neanderthals of Europe wore fitted clothing, in contrast to the wrapped and tied skins assumed by Jean Auel. Well, the Neanderthals were adapted physically to a cold climate. Further, anthropologists are now beginning to consider that homo sapiens sapiens may well have borrowed some technology, especially in preparing skins, from their Neanderthal cousins. I’ve assumed that the Neanderthals were adapted culturally as well as physically to the cold, and that part of that adaptation was fitted fur clothing (at least in winter.) Such clothing would not have been needed in much of Africa, especially during daytime. Clothing would probably have been for adornment and protection from the sun, if used at all, and any need for warmth at night would have been better served by fire, huddling together, or whole hides.

Year 9 Day 285

“Find me a large skin,” Songbird suggested, “and I’ll see if I’ve learned their methods for tanning right. Look for a prey animal. I think that’s what they use mostly, the hides of the animals they kill for food.”

There are some animals with branched antlers that seem quite comfortable in the snow that covers the area I am now exploring, and when I saw one break through river ice and be swept under, I managed to lock onto the body and teleport it to my side. The coat was indeed dense, with hollow hair that promised warmth with a minimum of weight.

Songbird had emphasized the importance of removing all flesh and membranes from the inside of the hide, so I did that while I was teleporting the hide clear of the body. I brought her the head, too, along with the meat, extra salt, obsidian and sweet dates as payment.

It took her many fivedays, but today she presented me with the tanned hide. “Suppose you teleport me to the lake to work with Rainbow in making you body coverings,” she suggested. “I studied the way the northern hunters made them, and I think I could do better than the ones she made for me.”

I thought this over. Songbird is still the only one of the People I feel safe teleporting, and she still can’t leave her daughter for more than half a day. “An afternoon at a time,” I told her, “and only if you and Rainbow can work in harmony. Tell her what you have observed.” Rainbow is learning to make me fitted garments, and with clothing made from this hide, along with the bearskin, I will actually be equipped to explore the cold northern continent even in the local winter.

The video is the wrong place and the wrong time of year, but it does show the right animals.

Year 9 Day 241

“They’re hot,” Songbird said when I insisted she put on the garments Rainbow had made. “And these bags on my feet are hot and clumsy. How do you stand them?”

“You’ll need them where we’re going,” I said. “Ready? Turn on the distort. Now let’s go.” And I teleported her invisible self to a small clearing, not far from where the hunters had been yesterday, but far enough to be out of hearing. Don’t speak aloud, I cautioned her mentally. Just think at me if you need to communicate something.

She blinked a time or two and squatted down to touch the snow-dusted ground. It’s like the stuff you brought WildDog when he was teething, she thought at me. She didn’t actually sub-vocalize it, but I also picked up her decision that those hot clothes might be a good idea, and that in fact it was going to be hard to warm her hands. I grinned and handed her a couple of fur-lined bags just big enough for her hands.

I opened my mind to the hunters, and nodded in satisfaction. The men are off hunting, I thought at Songbird. The two older women are in camp, preparing hides. I’ll teleport us to where we can watch.

Songbird watched the two women like a vulture searching for carrion. After what seemed a very long time to me, she thought, Can you put their thoughts about what they are doing into my head?

It took me a little time to find what she wanted, because it was not near the top of their minds. Tanning hides was something they had learned from their mothers, and was done simply because that was the way it was done. They did not have to think about it, any more than I thought of how my starship worked when I flew it, or how to walk. But I did manage to find the knowledge that went into their hands without thought, and passed it on to Songbird.

I felt her satisfaction, followed by sudden tension. Listen.

The hunters were returning, at least two of them were, and they were shouting at each other. The third, the leader? I touched minds with one of the shouters, and stiffened. The leader was dead, trampled by the antlered creature they had been hunting. The two were in a race to seize the bearskin he wore as a symbol of leadership, but had left behind at the camp.

I didn’t realize that I was still feeding the mental images to Songbird until she ran forward, grabbed the bearskin, and screamed mentally, Get me out of here! The distort hid the skin as well as Songbird; to the hunters bursting into the clearing the skin had vanished before their eyes and they were too startled to continue their argument. I was too startled to do anything but get Songbird, myself, and the bearskin away.

You can’t just steal things like that, I thought at her.

She grinned. It stopped the fight. The owner’s dead, and you need it. Leave them some salt where the skin was, if you want.

Year 9 Day 240

I found a group of the northern hunters yesterday, and the distort seemed to work. What’s more, several of the women were tanning furred skins, both salted from last year and a fresh one. Time to contact Songbird, I thought.

No problem locating her, and I teleported to her vicinity. Rain Cloud’s band was relatively used to my appearing out of nowhere by now, and most kept on with their tasks while Songbird ran to meet me.

“Are they tanning furs now? Will you take me to watch? Swallow is old enough now I can leave her with my mother for most of the day, and she’ll watch WildDog, too. But once I figure out how to tan furs she wants me to teach her.”

“First we need to be sure that the distorts I improvised work,” I told her. “Is Giraffe around?”

In response she turned to WildDog, trailing her as usual, and said, “Find Giraffe and tell him the god Jarn wishes his presence.”

I’ve about given up on protesting at being called a god. They make gods of everything else they don’t understand, after all.

I’d made a pendant with the two chips, and I placed it around Songbird’s neck. “When you press here,” and I indicated the sensitized patch, “No one will see you. I hope.”

She didn’t wait for me to tell her to press it; she simply disappeared. I could still perceiver her, of course, but when Giraffe came up, with WildDog riding his shoulders, he did not even look in her direction. “You wished to see me?” he asked politely.

“Do you see Songbird?” I asked.

He looked around puzzled. “No, he said slowly. “She must have just left, though. I can smell her.” By my side, Songbird giggled.

“It works. Now how do I turn it off?”

“Touch the same spot again,” I said, and she reappeared.

“That’ll make watching the others tan furs much easier. Are you going to take me there?”

“Tomorrow, if it’s all right with Giraffe and your mother. Rainbow has made you some warm clothes – at least I hope they’re warm enough. They’re small furs sewn together. And I’ve stored them with tree branches from where the norther hunters live, so they should smell familiar to the them. But you must be very quiet.”

“Oh, I wanted to let Giraffe know where I was. I can be quiet. So will you come at sunrise tomorrow?”

“A little before noon. The sun rises later there.”

Giraffe had looked doubtful at first, but he had seen some of the tanned furs and he seemed quite pleased with the idea that his mate should learn the secret of their fashioning.

Year 9 Day 235

If I had a distort, I thought, I could take Songbird to watch the northern hunters without worry that they might see us. Provided I could convince her to be quiet.

Not that she couldn’t be quiet. That was something children of the People learned early, when stalking small animals. Songbird might not hunt large animals, but I’ve seen her capture enough fish and small rodents to know how silent she could be. But that wouldn’t top her from being seen, and I was certain the hunters had much better vision than most animals.

The computer had the instructions for making warnoffs, I thought, and I still had a number of un-programmed chips. Could a distort possibly be as easy to make as a warnoff was?

I tried asking the computer for “distort.” Nothing. I tried describing it. How do you describe something like a distort? Finally I remembered someone – I don’t even remember who – saying that the effect was caused by bending light rays around an object. The computer gave me an explanation of mirages, which I didn’t really need, but there was a footnote at the end of the article that referred to “artificial mirages.” It was a long shot, but I tried it.

Turned out that was it. Invisibility took two chips, with different programs. The first would cause electromagnetic radiation in a relatively limited band of wavelengths to bend around an object, producing a semitransparent effect. That would affect a recording device, but it wouldn’t confer complete invisibility – anyone looking (or an optical recorder) would see a rather wavery image with odd color fringes but there would still be something there. The second would be programmed similarly to a warnoff, but the message would be closer to “nothing there,” instead of “I’m harmless and I’ll make you sick if you try to eat me.”

It took several days but it worked. Somewhat more to my surprise, Rainbow took it for granted. Was I not a god?

Year 9 Day 212

If there is a northern ice cap, it is not land-based anywhere on this northern continent or on this island or peninsula whose coast I have been following, and it’s getting too cold to continue northward. As far as I can tell, there is nothing but ocean to the north, anyway, and I’m well above the Arctic Circle here. From the time of year and the sun’s height at noon, I’m around 71° N.

The word is barren, but there’s no ice in sight. Or land farther north, for that matter, even when I levitate as high as I can go. Just salt water, and very unfriendly-looking salt water, at that.

So what shall I do next? The fur-bearers are well along on growing their winter coats, though I think it will be a few more fivedays before they’re at their best. I wonder if Songbird has weaned her daughter yet, at least enough that she could be gone for a few hours? Watching the northern hunters (or rather their women) tan furs was her idea, but I find I am looking forward to it. Maybe I can even figure out how they tan the really big hides, like the one on that carnivore I ran into the other day.

Could there be a floating ice cap?

Jarn’s Journal is a regular Friday feature. For the entire Journal to date see my author site.

Year 9 Day 201

I still don’t know whether this is a very large island or part of the northern continent, but is very mountainous and very large. Large enough to support large predators, and large enough that at I am fairly sure it extends north of the Arctic Circle. There is no sign of an ice cap yet, though.

I have been following the western coastline, which is forested and cut by deep fjords. It is getting quite cold at night, and the deciduous trees are starting to change color. I am glad that I traded for furs as I did, and that Rainbow was able to make them into warm clothing – I need it here. In fact, I have reached the point when I envy some of the predators their coats. Especially the large one I saw today.

It had the teeth of a carnivore, but it was stuffing itself on dried berries. Luckily I can levitate, because when I inadvertently disturbed it in its feeding, I thought for a moment it was going to attack me in spite of the warnoff. Once I was out of its reach the warnoff took effect, and it went back to feeding. But the northern hunters must regard this animal as their greatest enemy.

I didn’t try to trade for the larger skins, though now I have a better idea of their origin. If I had one, I could wrap up in it at night, and study the nightlife around me. On the equatorial continent many of the animals, especially the predators, are most active at night. I really ought to check here.

Perhaps a number of the smaller furs, sewn together, would make a robe to keep me from freezing at night. If not, I will have to postpone my further explorations until next year.

Year 9, day 195

If there’s a northern ice cap I haven’t found it yet, though I’ve seen a lot more of the northern continent.

I’d already observed that the northern shore of the tideless sea was very different from the southern one. I’ve come to the conclusion that the equatorial continent on which I landed is quite different from the northern one, and not just in latitude and climate.

The equatorial continent has a relatively smooth outline, at least on a large scale. Few islands or peninsulas, to start with. Then what mountains exist are mostly volcanic or associated with rifting and thermal uplift. This continent is spitting apart. I’m pretty sure at this point it is also crashing into the northern one, which helps explain all the mountains to the north.

The northern continent is very irregular in outline, with so many embayments and peninsulas I can hardly keep track of them. I haven’t mapped the whole coastline yet, or the islands offshore. But I’m now mapping the north shore of the continent, which is considerably closer to the pole than any part of the equatorial continent. My calculations indicate a latitude around 54°, rather low for an ice cap, though some of the higher mountains are glaciated year-round. But this morning I ran into a peninsula heading north, and when I followed it to the end, near sunset, there were more mountains to the north.

There is an arm of salt water to cross, though it seems less salty than most of the ocean. But I think I’ll fly north to this new land tomorrow.

Jarn’s Journal is part of the back story of the Jarnian Confederation, in which my science fiction is set. The Journal to date is on my author site.


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